Nobody is abandoning the constitution, nor restricting free speech. Just as freedom of speech does not give one the right to scream "Fire!" in a movie theater, it does not guarantee the person making use of free speech protection from the consequences of his or her actions.
The demonstration could easily have been be held after school or at a school board meeting. Newsday and Channel 12 would have come running as demonstrations are great on TV and web videos. They are "news"; students working hard for upcoming AP and Regents Exams are not "news".
The reason it was held during school was to get out of class, otherwise it would have been held after or before school or more effectively, at a school board meeting.
Now, if students want to walk out of class, away from the supervision of the school and take the consequences for their actions, I have no problem with that. In fact, that is what happened.
What I object to is trying to get the punishment applied for walking out lifted. That disconnects the person from responsibility for his or her actions. In essence it says that regardless of the consequences to others any action is fine if the individual carrying out that action is OK with it.
So, I would assume you would be fine with a student rapping on bongos in class completely disrupting things and making it impossible for your child to learn because the bongo player was expressing his freedom of speech? Somehow, I don't think so. I wouldn't allow it in my class, I'll tell you that.
Similarly, when a group of students walk out of a school it disrupts classes (missing students) and affects other students by distracting them from their work watching the demonstrators out the window, texting back and forth, etc.
If the issue was so important to these students, they could have chosen to make presentations at the school board meeting as Sachem's AP French students did. That would have been responsible and might even have gotten results. The school board is the decision making body. Walking out of class harming their classmates progress only got these students time off from school, neither responsible, nor effective. (And, believe me, as a teacher my sympathies are with the students in opposing cuts, but there is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things.)
Of course, the student demonstrators will no doubt expect the teachers whose classes they walked out of to go over everything they missed when they return, wasting even more of the classes' time. After all, it is all about letting them following their whims at any time isn't it?
I think everyone is missing the "800 lb gorilla" in the room.
That is: why would MS Students walk out in the first place?
Either the Students were smoozed by Teachers who may loose their jobs or salary
or their Parents were smoozed by the Teachers who may loose their jobs or salary.
This would not be on the agenda for a MS/HS Student unless they were listening to the moaning & groaning & "woe is me" comments from one or both of those groups.